Republican state Senators want clear benchmarks from Gov. Phil Murphy as to when businesses deemed "non-essential" will be allowed to open.

They join a list of business associations and coalitions seeking specifics about loosening the emergency restrictions.

"We are the only state that doesn't have a plan that people can look to and rely on," said state Sen. Anthony M. Bucco, R-Morris, taking aim at Murphy's afternoon news briefings. "These small businesses need to know, they need to plan. We can't wait every day for a 1 p.m. surprise to find out what's going to be open next."

Murphy has used the daily briefings to announce changes to his executive orders, the latest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths and to take questions from reporters.

The governor laid out a plan called "The Road Back," which he calls a three-stage "methodical and strategic reopening of businesses and activities based on level of disease transmission risk and essential classification." The stages do not identify specific types of businesses that will reopen.

Owners of gyms, barbershops and hair salons have been vocal about wanting to reopen. Some have submitted reopening plans to the governor's office.  During Thursday's briefing Murphy, said a group of gym owners and salons who were planning to open on June 1 were "playing with fire" and implored them to wait and "bear with us" for guidance in the next few days.

Murphy has consistently repeated two consistent mantras: "Data determines dates" and "public health creates economic health."

Bucco said he understands the governor's priority needs to be the public health.

"Now it's time for him to present a plan that everybody can look to to get this economy operating again. This is going to have huge rippling effects well into the future," including lack of funding for schools, municipal aid and social services because no tax revenues are being generated, he said.

"We need the economy to get up and running again. People are smart enough and they are responsible enough to operate their businesses safely and they can do it in a quick fashion. Let's get people back to work, let's try to get to a new normal and I think that's what people are looking for now," Bucco said.

Having a timetable also gives residents a sense of stability and hope.

"When people look at these things and can't understand the logic behind what's happening, that's when they get frustrated and act out. We need to give them some hope for the future and the hope they're going to be able to save their businesses and continue their lives in a fashion in which they're accustomed to," Bucco said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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